Yes, learning is a process. Statistics reveal that more than half of all employees leave because of lack of on-the-job training. There is school and there is on-the-job training. This has long been a much-debated issue. Perhaps as much as the “Quality vs. Price” argument. It has followed me around like a little pup back to when I was still riding in laundry baskets, but already learning. I still associate odors back in the 1960’s through 1970’s plants. Primarily, solvent smells along with spotting chemical odors. Now that I am retired, I go into a drycleaning and laundry store and all of those wonderful smells from my distant past greet me at the door. If you grew up working on cars and racing them as a teen, you never forget the smell of gasoline, carbon and various chemicals exiting the exhaust. Ah the smell of old classic car exhausts. Eureka!
Grandpa Probably Had A Good System
Some of us learned on the job and then went to school and re-started our drycleaning and laundry career. Some of us lucked out and grew up in the industry and took advantage of tutelage from our grandparents, parents and sage old employees at your plant. Maybe dad or grandpa turned it over to you and you realized the value in going to school. Maybe some training on how to manage a plant or manage your books was helpful. Grandpa probably had a good system but was that enough to grow into the decades ahead? Some of us got family learning and maybe even married into the industry (such as me) then went to school, learned from others and soon we were heading to profits like a calf to its cow. Some of us flat out learned on the job, never ever really understood the chemical part of drycleaning and spotting and was at best a mediocre drycleaner. Maybe that has never changed.
Arguably one could say the old cowboy (me), is full of prunes or I am cocky as a rooster at sunrise. But I am only presenting clues, reality and tips from my 60 years back to being a child in the industry. However, you must concede that no one ever got dumber by going to any kind of learning process. Drycleaners of yesteryear and some today, are proud folks. Sometimes admitting you don’t know everything is embarrassing. Maybe we become satisfied with an attitude of “this is good enough.” Maybe the fire has burned out, or you have hobbies or other interests that eat up your time. Who knows? But I do remember going through some of those feelings of uncertainty.
Maybe A Drycleaners Intervention?
I fear for our industry, I really do. I worry that discarding some hard rules of the past will weaken our industry. I submit it already has started. If less and less students do not attend some kind of school or even weekend training sessions given by local or state associations, affiliated with DLI, we will be dropping further into abyss as an industry. Naturally, not everyone falls into this category. But even the best cleaners fall into a rut with what is so obvious, can drift right past them. Maybe these folks can benefit from a drycleaning intervention. A private trainer such as myself (not anymore but happily retired) can help you. Did you know a good advisor can see things way out of the realm of your own eyes? Not seeing the forest because of the trees. Sometimes that is the best repair or tuning you can give your operation. Many icons of the past stayed busy helping owners learn at their plants.
Not to be unsatisfied by my readers, I really hope that you understand that I do not prefer one method of training over the other. I have seen the results. Our old timers of yesteryear taught us a lot. I thought my grandparents were the smartest people on earth to have run such a dynamic business. They did not even realize it, I’m sure. They passed their skills down to us. Their testimonies and documented stories of great success are tremendous. I have known many from coast to coast and I not only learned from these titans of the industry, but I had great fun doing it.
You may think that all ordinary types of cleaners and launderers that, let’s say, offer discount pricing but may not deliver on some of the promises I speak of here in this column. But they do generate profits. Some of these plants are owned by disinterested people who could care less if they ever went to an association class, or even bothered to be a member of one. But they are not getting some of the best knowledge, advice and fun that they could ever imagine. I once thought it was unnecessary to mingle with other drycleaners back in the 60’s and 70’s. I eventually realized I was kidding myself. I was not so brilliant that I could not learn something from others. Think of it this way,
“If learning is by experience only, then your rate of learning will be quite slow.”